RutgersModelUnitedNations 3 sovereign political power of a geographic area. 1 Under this definition, an example of a “state” is Canada, as it is composed of numerous cultures, races, ethnicities, languages, and religions. A nation, however, is classified as a group of people who believe they share a common culture and identity. 2 Japan would consider itself a nation, because the people of Japan share a common identity, and history, but in legal terms, it is also a state. According to these definitions, multiple nations can exist within any single state, for example, the Cherokee or Blackfoot Nations living within the United States of America. Multiple nations existing within a single state however, can cause difficulties as different nations vie for political power over the state. The Basques are a stateless nation overlooked by the international community in its fight for independence. A group inhabiting the Pyrenees mountains in the northwest of Spain and the southeast of France, the Basques have maintained an entirely separate culture and language than the rest of Western Europe. The origins of the Basques baffle anthropologists, as their language is not a part any Indo-European language, like most languages spoken is Western Europe or in that region, and is completely unrelated to any other known language. Their language, Euskera, seems to be the uniting force, creating a distinct culture of the Basques. They have long fought for their independence as many Basques feel that they are not represented in the Spanish and French governments. A group known as Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) in Euskera, or Basque Homeland and Liberty Group in English, have fought both politically and violently, for independence. ETA’s primary source of support comes from the Basque regions in Spain, more so than the Basque Province in France. According to the Spanish Government, ETA is deemed a terrorist group and has been banned for its violent attacks in Madrid and other populous cities in Spain. Chechens are an ethnically and religiously different group than most of Russia: Chechens are Muslim, while most Russians are Russian Orthodox. For much of its history, Chechnya has been largely independent, or acted as an autonomous region. Yet 1 Politcal Dictionary. “State” http://www.thevoter.org/glossary.php?word=State 2007 2 Politcal Dictionary. “Nation” http://www.thevoter.org/glossary.php?word=nation 2007.
RutgersModelUnitedNations 4 in 1994, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia invaded and occupied Chechnya. Former Soviet leaders encouraged Russian action in Chechnya in the interest of preserving borders drawn during the Soviet Era. 3 Chechen separatists have resorted to guerilla warfare, rather than facing Russia’s vast army in a frontal assault. Russia uses oppressive tactics in order to control the region, including what many in the international community and media believe to be human rights abuses. The explosive situation in Chechnya has been largely overlooked, however, by the international community, especially the UnitedNations. As Russia holds a permanent seat on the Security Council, it maintains the right of veto during any debate and subsequent action to be taken by the Security Council, therefore the issue has not been addressed. Many other international bodies, however, have taken notice such as non-governmental organizations, like Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. These groups believe that actions taken by Russia amount to war crimes. As Chechen rebels fight for independence from the Russia Federation, many parallels can be drawn between the Chechens and the Kurds in Iraq. The situation in the Iraq offers a perfect example of different nations attempting to gain political power within a state, as Kurds and Sunni and Shiite religious factions fight for power. The anarchy created by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein regime released ancient social resentments among the three largest populations within Iraq, Sunni and Shiite Muslims and Kurds. Resentment among these different nations foster an environment of violence and religious extremism. Particularly at stake in this civil war is control of the vast rich oil fields of Iraq. Today, most of the working oil fields are owned by the Kurds in Northern Iraq, away from the large scale violence in the south. The Kurds are an ethnically different population inhabiting northern Iraq and neighboring countries like Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Kurds have lived under the mandates of other states for most of their existence. Many Kurds want their own homeland of Kurdistan, or “Land of the 3 Tracey C German. Russia’s Chechen War. RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.